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The HLab Epic Lab Edition sits atop a wooden desk, with its case open.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
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JLab Epic Lab Edition review

JLab takes a swing at the kings of the earbuds ring.
By

Published onMarch 4, 2024

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8
JLab Epic Lab Edition
The bottom line
The JLab Epic Lab Edition are the testbed for the latest generation of Knowles balanced armature drivers, and they make a compelling case. Great sound quality paired with most of the top-flight features we expect from high-end earbuds make this one of the best buys in the category.
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JLab Epic Lab Edition

The JLab Epic Lab Edition are the testbed for the latest generation of Knowles balanced armature drivers, and they make a compelling case. Great sound quality paired with most of the top-flight features we expect from high-end earbuds make this one of the best buys in the category.
Product release date

2023

Price

$199.99

Dimensions

Case: 27 x 69 x 41 mm

Earbuds: 23 x 27 x 19 mm

Ear tip diameter: 4.6 mm

Weight

5.4g per earbud

64g case

Model Number

EBELABBLK50WEB

Waterproof

IP55

What we like
Price
Sound quality
Wireless charging
Multipoint
Features
Dongle
What we don't like
Somewhat weak ANC
Large earbuds
8
SoundGuys Rating
9.3
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
7.0
9.0
9.0
Active Noise Cancelling
8.0
9.0
9.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.7
10.0
10.0
Value
8.5
-
0.0
Design
8.5
-
0.0
Connectivity
8.0
-
0.0
Portability
9.2
8.0
8.0
Battery Life
7.3
9.5
10.0
Feature
9.0
10.0
10.0
Comfort
8.8
-
0.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.8
Distortion
2.2
Immersiveness
4.3
Overall
4.1

Wireless earbuds have largely matured as a category, but there are still breakthroughs to be had. JLab has partnered with transducer manufacturer Knowles to bring its vision for audio quality to a consumer product, but is it any good? Let’s investigate.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this JLab Epic Lab Edition review: We tested the JLab Epic Lab Edition over 21 days. The earbuds ran firmware version 1.5.4, and the JLab app ran version 1.7.8.9. The company provided the unit for this review.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition are for commuters, casual listeners, and anyone else who want maximum bang for their buck from wireless earbuds. These are credible high-end earbuds with uncommon value-adds.

What’s it like to use JLab Epic Lab Edition?

The JLab Epic Lab Edition are JLab’s top-of-the-line earbuds. Consequently, they have many of the features you’d expect them to have to take on the AirPods Pros and Sony WF-1000XM5s of the world. The JLab Epic Lab Edition offers a new hybrid driver arrangement, Bluetooth Multipoint, spatial audio support, ear detection sensors, and more. You’re not missing out on significant features of the competition outside of a few platform-specific things you may not even want.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition is fairly large as earbuds go, but still small enough for most ears.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab Epic Lab Edition are quite large — but small enough to fit most ears.

The earbuds are a little on the chunky side, but they’re pretty light, and there aren’t the usual comfort issues I’ve had with earbuds of this size. Instead of using a fin or secondary hook to keep these in place, the JLab Epic Lab Edition relies on their outer contour to stay in your ear’s concha. It’s not ideal, but it could be worse. If you have smaller ears, this might be where you run into issues.

The package includes three sizes of silicone ear tips and three sizes of memory foam ear tips. Because fit is the most critical aspect of any earbuds, the two kinds of ear tips are a nice addition. I use memory foam tips when I review earbuds because it’s one of the easiest ways to guarantee an excellent fit and decent isolation. Just roll the ear tips between your thumb and forefinger to compress, insert the buds into your ear, and hold them in place while the foam expands to fit. Very simple!

A photo of a man shoving the JLab Epic Lab Edition into his pocket.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab Epic Lab Edition’s case is chunky but small enough to fit into most pockets.

If you’re an exercise junkie — or live in a climate where it’s constantly raining, like here in Vancouver — you’ll appreciate the IP55 ingress protection rating offered by the JLab Epic Lab Edition. This means that you can take these pretty much anywhere without any fear of rain, sweat, or splashes. I still wouldn’t take these in the shower, even if they technically could handle it now and again.

The case of the JLab Epic Lab Edition.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The case of the JLab Epic Lab Edition can charge wired or wirelessly.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition case is a bit on the chunky side, though that means something quite different than it did two years ago. You can still jam it into tiny pockets with no sweat, though if you wear skinny jeans, you may have some issues with the girth of the case itself. Said case is also a bit heavier than you might expect, owing to some metallic elements, heavy-duty hinges, and internal components.

How do you control the JLab Epic Lab Edition?

A man wearing glasses taps the JLab Epic Lab Edition's touch surfaces.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
Customizable touch surfaces make for an easy control experience.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition is controlled through taps and long-presses on either earbud’s touch interface. However, you can change the default behavior of these controls in just about any way you want.

JLab Epic Lab Edition default controls:

InputLeft earbudRight earbud
Input
Single tap
Left earbud
Volume down
Right earbud
Volume up
Input
Double tap
Left earbud
Voice assistant
Right earbud
Play / pause
Input
Triple tap
Left earbud
Switch EQ
Right earbud
Switch EQ
Input
Long press
Left earbud
Noise control mode
Right earbud
Next track

When you open the app’s controls customization feature, you can use the drop-down menus to tell the app which inputs should perform what function. No apparent restrictions exist so you can set any action to any input on either earbud. I often use the ambient sound mode, so I moved that to a double-tap on the left earbud while removing the EQ mode toggle.

Should you use the JLab app for the JLab Epic Lab Edition?

Though it’s frustrating to have to accept a companion app for core functions of a product like earbuds, it’s one of those things the consumer audio world has settled on. While we don’t know what user data the app collects, the app itself is one of the best on the market regarding user experience. There are no confusing menus, everything is intelligently laid out and easy to find, and anything you’d like to control on the earphones is front and center on the main page. You can also see device information and enable or turn off features.

A photo of the JLab app, alongside the paired JLab Epic Lab Edition.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
JLab’s app is one of the easiest to use on the market.

I say all this because it’s rare for apps to be easy to navigate and a huge sore spot for me. Any product should be easy to use, and it’s impressive how few apps are as easy to navigate as JLab’s. Though it’s virtually mandatory, you should use the JLab app. Kudos to the designers.

To get more into the app’s functionality, there’s a 10-band EQ, the ability to toggle between ANC and passthrough modes, turn ear sensors on or off, and a volume limiter to prevent listening at unsafe volume. Though those probably don’t sound exciting, the volume limiter in particular is an essential feature to have if you want to continue to rock out as you age. Protecting your hearing is a big deal, and the American Academy of Audiology and SoundGuys agree that you should listen at lower volumes.

How do the JLab Epic Lab Edition connect?

One of the strongest suits of the JLab Epic Lab Edition is how versatile they are regarding Bluetooth. Though wireless earbuds will always suffer a few drawbacks due to the nature of wireless audio, some products handle these shortcomings better than others. The JLab Epic Lab Edition is one of those earbuds sets that do well here.

A photo of the included USB-C dongle of the JLab Epic Lab Edition.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab Epic Lab Edition has a USB-C dongle for sources without Bluetooth.

While they don’t offer Snapdragon Sound or any of the aptX Adaptive codecs, JLab gave their flagship earbuds LDAC and LC3, running on Bluetooth 5.3. This means that these earbuds can handle the same high-bitrate codec that gives Sony its advantage, and the JLab Epic Lab Edition can also use the best low-bitrate compression offered by LE audio. As far as earbuds go, you get the best of both worlds — provided you have an Android phone.

Heads up! There’s a known issue

Our review took a while to publish because we found an issue in firmware version 1.5.4 that prompted a fix by JLab. Essentially, the issue is related to the handling of a stereo signal. If you notice a problem, placing the earbuds back in the charging case can fix this. There’s a firmware update in the works to address this projected for mid-March, so it’s possible that you will never have to experience this. Just update your earbuds whenever the manufacturer pushes an update, and you should be perfectly fine.

Going beyond that, inside the charging case is a USB-C dongle that entirely bypasses the need for Bluetooth. Just plug it into your computer, and the earbuds prioritize this connection over all others.

If you’re not using the app, pairing the JLab Epic Lab Edition is as straightforward as it is with any other earbuds.

  1. On your source device, enable Bluetooth and scan
  2. Open the case of the JLab Epic Lab Edition and wait for the LED to turn on
  3. On your source device’s Bluetooth menu, locate the JLab Epic Lab Edition and tap them to pair

How long does the JLab Epic Lab Edition battery last?

The JLab Epic Lab Edition lasted 8 hours and 46 minutes in our standardized test, which is quite a bit better than average for wireless earbuds. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how you listen. While this may not sound Earth-shatteringly good, just remember that 8 hours per charge is enough to get you through a transcontinental flight or an entire workday for most people. Given that you’ll also be charging your earbuds every time you drop them back into the case, you can expect more life from your JLab Epic Lab Edition if you take regular breaks.

A bar plot comparing the battery life between the JLab Epic Lab Edition, Sony WF-1000XM5, Apple AirPods Pro 2, and the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds.
Though not the undisputed king of battery life among ANC earbuds, the JLab Epic Lab Edition comes close.

If you’re the kind of person to set your charging case on a desk while you work or don’t like hunting for that USB cable to charge your gadgets, you should consider getting a Qi-compatible charging surface. Yes, it’s yet another cable and item to put on your desk — but as the case of the JLab Epic Lab Edition has wireless charging, you can set it on the pad and juice up while you’re working. It may sound like a little thing, but it’s a nice quality-of-life improvement.

JLab claims that 10 minutes of charge time will net you about 2 hours of listening time — earbud batteries are tiny, after all.

How well do the JLab Epic Lab Edition cancel noise?

A photo of the JLab Epic Lab Edition's package contents.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
Choosing between silicone and foam tips is an excellent boon for performance and fit.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition blocks out 17-40dB above 1KHz with a good fit and do a fair job at canceling out noise up to 35dB below 1kHz. It’s a little inconsistent, so you won’t quite get the performance of top-tier noise cancelers like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, but you’ll get most of the way there.

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If you want to hear your surroundings, you can also toggle a passthrough mode that pipes outside noise to your ear. You can also disable ANC, but it did not affect battery life enough to justify keeping it off.

How do the JLab Epic Lab Edition sound?

As a testbed for how one of the largest audio component manufacturers thinks earbuds should sound, the JLab Epic Lab Edition will be important for the next couple of years as a taste of what’s to come. Unsurprisingly, these earbuds perform very well when it comes to measured data, as well as for casual listening.

Can you use the JLab Epic Lab Edition for phone calls?

What would a set of earbuds be without a microphone? Not a headset, that’s what. The JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone performs well. However, you don’t have to take my word for it: below are samples collected in our lab.

JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

51 votes

If you’re more prone to take calls in the office, outside, or in a room that echoes, below are samples collected that simulate each environment.

JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone demo (Office conditions):

JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone demo (Street conditions):

JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone demo (Windy conditions):

JLab Epic Lab Edition microphone demo (Reverberant space):

Though the JLab Epic Lab Edition does poorly at noise rejection, wind noise makes conversations difficult.

Should you buy the JLab Epic Lab Edition?

The HLab Epic Lab Edition sits atop a wooden desk, with its case open.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab Epic Lab Edition is a surprisingly solid choice.

If you’re in the market for earbuds, the JLab Epic Lab Edition are a compelling buy because they offer most of the features people want, but at a reasonable cost. Sure, they might not get the headlines that AirPods do, but for a person who is just looking for earbuds that work well in a broad range of situations and don’t cost as much as the Sony WF-1000XM5, these are an easy pick.

JLab Epic Lab EditionJLab Epic Lab Edition
SG recommended
JLab Epic Lab Edition
Sound quality • Features • ANC/Transparency
MSRP: $199.99
JLab takes a swing at the kings of the earbuds ring.
The JLab Epic Lab Edition are the testbed for the latest generation of Knowles balanced armature drivers, and they make a compelling case. Great sound quality paired with most of the top-flight features we expect from high-end earbuds make this one of the best buys in the category.
See price at Amazon
JLab Epic Lab Edition true wireless earbuds
See price at JLab Audio
JLab Epic Lab Edition true wireless earbuds

If you have the $200 to spare and you’re looking for ANC earbuds that can survive your daily life, the JLab Epic Lab Edition are an easy win. Not only do they offer some of the better audio performance on the market for their category, but they get a lot right where other earbuds fall short. My main gripes with the earbuds are largely academic. It will be interesting to see if JLab continues to make earbuds in this mold.

What should you get instead of the JLab Epic Lab Edition?

The JLab Epic Lab Edition only have a handful of peers and competitors. Mainly, we’re talking about the Apple AirPods Pro 2 ($239 at Amazon), the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds ($299 at Amazon), and the Sony WF-1000XM5 ($298 at Amazon). Other lesser-known options include bleeding-edge options like the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 ($149.99 at Amazon) — though this model is not quite there when it comes to the app, weatherproofing, or creature comforts.

Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case open on the table with the earbuds placed behind the case
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5 are among the best noise canceling headphones on the market — but they don’t come cheap.

The most compelling case to get the AirPods over the JLab Epic Lab Edition is if you own an iPhone, you won’t be able to use LDAC with the JLab earphones. However, if you’re older than 35, you may like the sound of the JLab Epic Lab Edition more than that of the AirPods Pro by virtue of their tuning. However, the AirPods Pro have several other features you might find enticing, like the ability to act as a personal sound amplification device (PSAP), or the Apple ecosystem integrations. If you’re an Android user, there’s no contest: the JLab Epic Lab Edition are the better buy by far.

Bose’s earbuds are a much closer contest, though to make the most of the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, you’ll need a brand-new (read: within the last year and a half) Android phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. If you’re near upgrade time, you may want to grab the Bose earbuds for their Snapdragon Sound compatibility. However, if aptX Lossless isn’t a huge draw for you, the JLab Epic Lab Edition will be a much better buy at almost $100 less.

Frequently asked questions

The JLab Epic Lab Edition have an ingress protection rating of IP55, meaning they can take a splash and some rain or sweat no trouble.

Yes, though the higher-bitrate LDAC is only available with compatible Android devices.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes — we recommend the foam ear tips for this use case.